Google is becoming more like its caricature company Hooli from the HBO show Silicon Valley every day. In an incredibly dickish move reminiscent of Gretchen Weiners screaming “YOU CAN’T SIT WITH US” at Regina George, Google has apparently informed vendors that if their products support Amazon Echo, they will be blocked from working with Google Home. This story was originally reported by Variety a few days ago.
Google Home, which has yet to exist, has been featured in a metric ton of recent tech articles and is slated to be the first direct competitor to Amazon’s wildly successful Echo lineup sometime between now and the next Mayan apocalypse. If you read the site, my first impressions of Google Home were that Google has an uphill battle on their hands since they are late to the game and Amazon is constantly expanding their compatibility and ecosystem. This seems like a cheap way for Google to attempt to scare companies into leveling the playing field.
That’s not to say that I’m anti-Google or anti-Google Home. While Google Home is a very similar product to Amazon Echo, or will be when it gets released, its main differentiator is that it will have the ability to integrate with Chromecast and Chromecast Audio to provide multi-room synced audio or video. Moreover, Google Home will give users the ability to cast to specific devices by using voice commands. This would give users the ability to ask to have Google Home play their favorite Hulu show on their Den TV, for example. I think features like these will draw in heavy users of the Google platform, and at the same time force Amazon to finally deal with multi-room audio, a feature that many have been clamoring for since its release.
The whole idea of whole house voice assistants is to unify the smart home experience, and a move like this from Google only seeks to build yet another wall between devices. The last thing the smart home world needs are more disassociated platforms. Competition is a good thing, especially in the technology world, and I hope Google can concentrate more on developing a great product and less on trying to torpedo the competition.